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Meet Amilcar Rodriguez: Saving Lives on the Frontline

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AP
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Meet Amilcar Rodriguez. Chief Petty Officer Rodriguez, a Navy Corpsman, is one of nine "Angels of the Battlefield" Awardees for 2012. The event highlights the individual men and women on the frontlines of places like Afghanistan, who are saving lives and demonstrated extraordinary courage.

While most Americans can list the five branches of the military (go ahead and do it in your head), most do not realize the scope of military medical personnel on the battlefield and worldwide, charged with saving lives, encouraging healthy living and serving on humanitarian missions. Every year the Armed Services YMCA works with the military services to select Corpsmen, Medics and Pararescuemen from the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Army Guard, who accepted the awards on behalf of their fellow Corpsmen, Medics and Pararescuemen for their dedication and commitment to service.

Amilcar enlisted at age 18 and has served thirteen years. From 2004 to 2009 he had four back to back deployments to a war zone; deploying to Al Anbar Province in Iraq twice, as well as Afghanistan's Helmand Province and Herat Province.

Amilcar was awarded the Silver Star for Combat Operations in Afghanistan for tending to a wounded teammate and trying to assist and move other causalities under fire and while being wounded.

He is now stationed at Fort Bragg with his wife Kelly and their son, who is one year old. Serving in the U.S. military is a family tradition for Rodriguez; his father, grandfather, brothers and uncles all served in the United States Army.

Deployments can be hard, especially being separated from his wife and son, but he feels privileged, "I have the privilege of serving and representing the greatest and strongest nation in the world, and serving amongst the finest men I have and will ever know."

Nonprofit organizations like the Armed Services YMCA, Operation Homefront and the USO help military families cope and thrive with free programs year round.

There are over 20,000 active duty and reserve medical personnel serving around the globe. And while Rodriguez is being honored as a 2012 Angels of the Battlefield Award Recipient for the U.S. Navy, along with the Army Commendation Medal and the Silver Star, Rodriguez says, "having the responsibility for your team's health and welfare is reward enough."